A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Mock Communist Invasion’

Mosinee, Wisconsin

Posted by graywacke on December 23, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a once or twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2142; A Landing A Day blog post number 570.

 Dan:  Give me a break.  Yet another OSer (making it 10 of my last 12), thanks to this landing in . . . WI; 42/39; 2/10; 8; 148.5.  Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

And my local landing map:

 landing 2

You can see most of my watershed analysis on the above map.  The Big Eau Pleine Reservoir is the dammed-up Big Eau Pleine River (first hit!); on to the Lake Dubay, a reservoir on the Wisconsin River (11th hit).  By the way, “eau pleine” literally means “full water” in French.  But a French phrase translator suggests “open water.”

Anyway, stepping back a little:

 landing 3

The Wisconsin makes its way to the MM (842nd hit).

Here’s my Google Earth (GE) voyage from space:

 

This is a GE shot that shows nearby Street View coverage (the blue line):

 GE showing sv location 1

And here’s the Street View shot from the vantage point of the dude sitting on the blue line:

 GE SV landing

Similarly, another GE shot:

 GE showing sv location 2

And similarly, the Street View shot looking across the lake:

 GE SV landing from the lake

Of course, the first thing I did in regard to Mosinee was check on the pronunciation.  Here you go:

 

The second thing I did was to check out the Wiki entry for Mosinee, and son of a gun if I didn’t see something interesting:

Mock Communist Invasion

On May 1, 1950, local residents acting as Communist invaders seized control of Mosinee.

The action was a part of an elaborate pageant organized by the Wisconsin Department of the American Legion. The “Communists” dragged Mayor Ralph E. Kronenwetter and Police Chief Carl Gewiss out of their beds. Mayor Kronenwetter surrendered at 10:15 AM in the town’s new “Red Square” with a pistol to his back. The police chief was reported to have resisted and was “liquidated”.

Roadblocks were set up around Mosinee, the library was “purged”, prices of goods were inflated for the duration of the coup, and local restaurants served Russian black bread and potato soup for lunch.

Here are some additional angles, from the October 2010 issue of the Organization of American Historians Magazine of History:

It was six o’clock in the morning on May 1, 1950. In Mosinee, Wisconsin, a small Marathon County papermill town, Mayor Ralph Kronenwetter was still in his pajamas. Suddenly, outside of his house, a man shouted, “Come out with your hands on your head.” Five armed guards stormed inside. They grabbed the mayor, paraded him out the door, and informed him that the Council of People’s Commissars had taken over the town. The communist invasion of Mosinee had begun, and the invaders declared that Mosinee was now part of the United Soviet States of America.

It ended the next day. The brainchild of state and national leaders of the American Legion, the two-day mock communist takeover of Mosinee aimed to teach Americans the horrors of communist rule. The Legion selected May 1 to coincide with International Workers’ Day, traditionally celebrated by the communist movement worldwide.

The attack also came at a propitious time in the early Cold War. In August 1949, the Soviet Union had successfully tested an atomic bomb. Two months later, Mao Tse-Tung’s People’s Liberation Army triumphed in China. In February 1950, less than three months before Mosinee’s D-Day, Wisconsin’s own Senator Joseph McCarthy broke onto the national scene, warning of communists in the U.S. State Department.

The Legion’s timing and the invasion’s novelty combined to generate fantastic media coverage. Television networks, newsreel companies, wire services, Life magazine, Readers’ Digest, and even the Soviet TASS news agency sent reporters.

 Check out this newspaper coverage!

MOCK COMMUNIST INVASION

MOSINEE, (Wisconsin), April 30, 1950

(AAP).-Real Communists moved into this small town to-day to disrupt plans for staging a mock Communist invasion to-morrow. Under cover of darkness they left highly critical handbills, and copies of the “Daily Worker” at every home and business place.

However, town officials said that no propaganda would prevent the 1400 citizens from coming under the heel of the “People’s Government” For one day only they would be shown that life under Communism was no bed of roses.  Ex-servicemen acting as revolutionists would strike at dawn, seize public utilities, take over schools, padlock churches and strip residents of their individual freedoms.

The director of the coup is Benjamin Gitlow, once a leading Communist in the United States until he-broke with the party in 1929. Gitlow said to-day that the demonstrators would apply tactics he had learned at the political insurrection school in Moscow.

This Benjamin Gitlow fellow was the real thing.  From Wiki:

Benjamin “Ben” Gitlow (December 22, 1891 – July 19, 1965) was a prominent American socialist politician of the early 20th century and a founding member of the Communist Party USA.  He was twice jailed for anti-American activities, and twice ran for office on the Workers (Communist) Party ticket:  in 1926 for Governor of New York and in 1928 for Vice President of the United States.

However, during the 1930s, Gitlow took a drastic turn to the right and wrote two sensational exposés of American Communism, books which were very influential during the McCarthy period. Gitlow remained a leading anticommunist up to the time of his death.

Check out this You Tube video posted by Liberté, Liberté, Cherié:

 

The mock Communist invasion of Mosinee was a very interesting piece of history. But there were two strange twists. Back to Wiki:

As he arrived at a rally to restore democracy to the community the night of May 1 Mayor Kronenwetter suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and never regained consciousness. He died five days later on May 6, 1950 at age 49. The mayor’s doctor said the excitement and exertion probably contributed to his collapse.

Franklin Baker, commander of the local American Legion post, said, “It was a terrible coincidence.”

Local minister Will La Brew Bennett, 72, who, during the Communist invasion, demonstrated to the media how he would hide his Bible in the church organ if the Communists really invaded and was herded with other residents into a barbed-wire ringed “concentration camp” near “Red Square”, was found dead in his bed hours after the mayor’s death on May 7, 1950.

Phew.  Talk about a strange dark cloud descending over the town . . .  

And by the way – my Mom was 8 months pregnant with me while this was going on . . . Anyway, continuing from Wiki:

Footage from the “invasion” was used in the 1982 movie The Atomic Cafe.

The-atomic-cafe-movie-Poster

About the critical response to the film, from Wiki:

When the film was released, film critic Roger Ebert discussed the style and methods the filmmakers used, writing, “The makers of The Atomic Cafe sifted through thousands of feet of Army films, newsreels, government propaganda films and old television broadcasts to come up with the material in their film, which is presented without any narration, as a record of some of the ways in which the bomb entered American folklore. There are songs, speeches politicians, and frightening documentary footage of guinea-pig American troops shielding themselves from an atomic blast and then exposing themselves to radiation neither they nor their officers understood.”

Critic Vincent Canby praised the film, calling the film “a devastating collage-film that examines official and unofficial United States attitudes toward the atomic age” and a film that “deserves national attention.”

The entire film is on You Tube.  I’m going to check it out, as could you.

Moving right along . . .

Just south of my landing is the George W. Mead Wildlife Area, a wetlands wildlife refuge:

 GE The Mead

It is often interesting how a patch of real estate manages to be preserved.  Here’s the story:

Originally in the early 1900s, the lowlands in the area were farmed. They were drained by digging ditches and dredging and straightening a five mile section of the Little Eau Pleine River. Farming failed, however, as the lowlands were too wet, cold and acidic for farming.

In 1933, the area was to be the site of two reservoirs impounding the Big and Little Eau Pleine Rivers.  Land was bought by the Consolidated Paper Company, who planned on using the dams for hydroelectric power.  The Big Eau Pleine River dam was built in 1936. However, the dam on the Little Eau Pleine River was not built due to opposition from conservationists and local residents.

In 1959, Stanton Mead, President of Consolidated Paper Company, donated 20,000 acres to the State of Wisconsin for use as a state wildlife area. The Area is named for Stanton’s father.

I’ll close with some Panoramio shots of “The Mead.”  First, one by NaturesFan1226, showing a couple of Whooping Cranes just hanging out:

 pano naturesFan1226 1

Here’s a shot after the photographer made some noise & got them airborne:

 pano naturesFan1226 2

And now a couple of lovely Mead shots by Pete Sanderson (as you can tell):

 pano pete sanderson mead

 pano pete sanderson mead 2

 

That’ll do it.

KS

Greg

 

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